Joint health – essential vital substances for healthy bones and cartilage.

14. February 2023 from Kea Blum
Joint health. Essential vital substances for healthy bones and cartilage.

Tying your shoes, lifting boxes or climbing stairs – all of these activities shouldn't be a problem. In theory, that is. After all, when your joints hurt, even everyday movements like these become a challenge. The most common cause of persistent joint pain is wear – also known as osteoarthritis. To counteract this, there are a number of vital substances that can promote healthy joint function. We will demonstrate what these are. We will also explain why a healthy diet is not always enough for an optimal supply of all vital substances that promote the joints.

Healthy joints ensure maximum mobility

Joints connect bones to each other. They are made up of joint surfaces, a fluid-filled joint space and a joint capsule. The joint surfaces are covered with cartilage to protect the bones. Tendons connect the muscles to the bones. Ligaments stabilise and protect the joints.

Only when all these structures are healthy can the joints rise to their tasks. The most important of these tasks is movement. Getting down onto your knees, stretching out your arm, rotating your shoulder or bending your fingers: none of this would be possible without joints. They also act as small shock absorbers and cushion harsh movements. In this way, the joints protect the bones from damage.

Joint wear: main cause of pain

Joints can only rise to their tasks if they are healthy. By the time a joint has started to hurt, it has already been damaged. Wear and tear is one of the main causes of joint problems – also known as osteoarthritis.

Many people regard osteoarthritis as a typical illness of old age. However, young people can also suffer from the condition. Although joint wear cannot be completely prevented, it is a normal process that increases with age. But a healthy lifestyle contributes significantly to joint health into old age.

The right exercise is crucial

Two important factors for healthy joints, tendons, ligaments and cartilage are exercise and nutrition. Before we go into more detail on the topic of vital substances in the next section, let’s take a closer look at the exercise aspect. The general rule is that a healthy and happy medium is ideal. Neither years of single-sided and heavy strain, nor inactivity are good for the joints.

There are some people who are particularly susceptible to joint problems as they repeat the same movement over and over again. Foremost among these are

  • athletes. In particular, sports involving abrupt movements and changes of direction affect the joints. These are primarily ball sports such as handball, volleyball, tennis, football or basketball.
  • People who repeat the same movements as part of their jobs, such as cashiers or assembly line workers.
  • Workers who have to do heavy lifting or frequently have to work in an unnatural posture. This includes postal workers, painters, craftspeople or construction workers.

But even physical misalignments, such as knock knees or pelvic tilt, can put heavy strain on individual joints.

Many people often underestimate the extent to which joint health also suffers as a result of inactivity. Moderate exercise nourishes the cartilage between the joints, tendons and ligaments.

That’s why vital substances are so important for joint health

Once the joints, tendons, ligaments and cartilage are damaged, they can only be regenerated to a limited extent. That's why it's best to avoid joint damage as much as possible. An important building block for healthy joints is a diet rich in vital substances. The targeted absorption of certain vital substances can also help to minimise signs of wear and improve the mobility of the joints.

A good supply of vital substances can, however, be beneficial not only to athletes, but also to physically challenged professionals and people with pre-existing anatomical conditions. They can benefit anyone who wants to provide their body with targeted support in maintaining healthy joints into old age.

These vital substances can promote healthy joints

We will demonstrate which vital substances may have a particularly positive effect on joint health.

  • Manganese, zinc, vitamin K and vitamin D help maintain normal bones.
  • Vitamin C contributes to normal collagen formation, cartilage function and bone function.
  • Calcium is needed to maintain normal bones.
  • Copper helps maintain normal connective tissue, while manganese contributes to normal connective tissue formation.
  • Vitamin D helps maintain normal muscle function.

There are other vital substances that can promote joint health too. Hyaluronic acid and collagen are important components of connective tissue – and therefore of tendons and ligaments. Boron1 is a micronutrient that may have a positive effect on bones. Glucosamine sulphate and chondroitin sulphate may promote cartilage health.

Joint pain is also often associated with inflammation. Phytochemicals such as astaxanthin2 and curcumin3 as well as omega-3 fatty acids4 have a proven anti-inflammatory effect.

Nutrition tips for healthy joints:

  • reduced-fat milk and dairy products are good sources of calcium and vitamin D.
  • Calcium-rich mineral waters also help to meet calcium requirements.
  • Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring provide omega-3 fatty acids (recommendation: two to three times a week).
  • Daily fresh vegetables and fruit provide antioxidants. Green tea is also a good source.
  • Vegetable oils such as rapeseed oil, olive oil, walnut oil and linseed oil are also valuable sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • When cooking, rely on fresh ingredients rather than highly processed ready-made products, as they contain more vital substances, less sugar and unhealthy fats. These include trans fats and saturated fatty acids in particular.
  • Eat less meat and sausage products, as they contain arachidonic acid, a fatty acid that promotes inflammation.

Obesity also puts heavy strain on the joints. A healthy, balanced diet helps with shedding of excess pounds and maintaining a normal weight.

A healthy diet is a good start – but not always enough

Lots of fresh, nutritious foods and variety on the plate lays the foundation for healthy joints. But diet alone is often not enough to ensure that your body is well supplied with all the vital substances that promote healthy joints. There are several reasons for this, which vary from person to person. Firstly, nutritional requirements change with age. Secondly, stress, intensive exercise, illnesses and medication can lead to an increase in the need for vital substances.

And let's not forget: the modern lifestyle. The challenges of everyday life make it difficult to eat a balanced and healthy diet every day. Ready-made products make feeding ourselves easier, but also contain fewer nutrients – especially if they are highly processed. Add to this dietary preferences, such as veganism and vegetarianism which can also make it harder to absorb all the vital substances in sufficient quantities. Special joint-promoting dietary supplements can be used to tweak our nutrient supply in a targeted manner.


wear and tear is the most common cause of joint pain. If this continues to advance, a diagnosis of osteoarthritis might be considered. Since damaged cartilage, ligaments and tendons only heal to a limited extent, it is important to start taking care of your joints early on. Moderate, regular exercise is an important factor, as is a healthy diet.

Some vital substances can make a particularly important contribution to joint health. We have outlined the most important ones. However, it is not always possible to consume sufficient amounts of all vital substances through your diet. Special dietary supplements can contribute to good joint health into old age.

Kea Blum

I am a freelance journalist and editor from Hamburg. By my side is my Australian Shepherd girl Maja and my husband. After my studies in ecotrophology and a PR and editorial traineeship, I started my own business. For more than four years, I have been looking after clients in the fields of nutrition and health. I still find it fascinating how much what we eat can affect our health. And I love to pass on this knowledge to others through my work.